How to talk to your kids about the Texas school shooting: Experts weigh in

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Parents will be having many difficult conversations with their kids in the coming days about the school shooting in Texas Tuesday.

Mental health specialists said one of the biggest determining factors for how your child processes what happens in Texas is how you, the parent, are processing what happened.

"Just remember, kids are going to take a cue from you," said Rogers Behavioral Health Child and Adolescence Psychiatrist Sharon Hirsch.

Hirsch said when tragedy like this strikes, wanting to protect your kids, maybe by keeping them home from school, is normal.

"But we have to go on with our lives, we cannot change our routine because then we give in to these perpetrators," said Hirsch.

Children's Wisconsin Clinical Director of Mental and Behavioral Health Dr. Jenny Walczak said if your child is scared of things like going to school, talk about it.

"[Talk] about the different things parents and children can do to keep themselves safe when they're in the community, when they're doing activities, is really important," said Walczak.

They say too much information, like the constant updates from always-on-news, can do more damage than good.

Instead, start the conversation out by asking them what they already know, and use age-appropriate language.

"So that you can then provide correct information and meet them where they're at. When you do want to talk to your kiddo, you're going to definitely want to keep it simple," Walczak said.

It's also important to look for changes in their behavior. They say to look out for if they're becoming withdrawn, not talking with their friends or  losing interest in things they like to do.

"If you do notice those changes in your child, or in yourself, to reach out to your primary care provider or to a mental health professional," said Hirsch.

Experts said the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the Children's Wisconsin website, are both good resources for parents.

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